Interview: Rollers of the Realm with Erika Evans

Interview: Rollers of the Realm with Erika Evans

 

After having played ‘Rollers of the Realm’, I knew I wanted to do an interview with the developers as soon as possible. I reached out and contacted Ericka Evans and here’s the interview! Our side (TheGeniusInc) will be TGI and Ericka will be EE.

 

 

TGI: Who are you, what is your position at Phantom Compass and how long have you worked there?
EE: My name is Ericka Evans, I am Head of Production here at Phantom Compass and I’ve been here for two years.

 

 

TGI: What games have you enjoyed recently?

EE: Candy Crush, Triple Town, The Room, Mega Run, Lego Batman and Lego Indiana Jones (my 4 year old son is a big fan).

 

 

TGI: How long has Phantom Compass been in business?

EE: Phantom Compass has been around for 5 years. That’s seven full time employees and a group of awesome contractors to fill our project needs. We run a distributed business with two small offices (in Toronto, Ontario and St. Catharines, Ontario).

 

 

TGI: Phantom Compass has a large number of partnerships on your webpage. Does working in Canada and having access to these partners have a positive effect on company growth?

EE: Having access to Canadian public funds like CMF Experimental Fund and the OMDC Interactive Digital Media Fund have provided much stability for the growth of Phantom Compass.

 

 

TGI: When did work begin on ‘Rollers of the Realm’?

EE: It started as a 2D prototype in November of 2011. Phantom Compass brought together a group of laid off AAA developers and artists to jam out a prototype that everyone could use for their portfolios. What we came up with was so awesome, Phantom Compass secured the funds to bring the full game to life in the Unity3d Engine. We have been working on that version since September of 2012.

 

 

TGI: Where did the idea for ‘Rollers of the Realm’ come from?

EE: Everyone involved in the prototype jam was allowed to pitch ideas, and we voted on which ideas to work on. One of our collaborators, Tom Beirnes, came to the table with ‘RPG Pinball” and everyone immediately said ‘That’s it!”. The Project Director, Dave Evans, created the characters and story world for the game. He is a storyteller at heart and really wanted to prove you can deliver a really good story through any genre of game, even RPG pinball.

 

 

TGI: The merging of Fantasy and Pinball is rather original, did this cause any setbacks during design?
EE: There haven’t been any setbacks, but it has given us a lot of fodder for creative ideas. Mapping pinball mechanics to the RPG and Fantasy conventions has been a lot of fun. For example, the pinball ’tilt’ mechanic has been re-imagined as an agility stat for our balls (which we call ‘nudge’). Different characters (represented as balls) have different strengths of ‘nudge’ and this is a stat you can upgrade by buying items in the trading port. Attaching health and damage to the pinball flippers and using the healer character to fix damage dealt by foes is another example of this marriage of Fantasy and Pinball.TGI: The pre-beta just started, any word on a final date? What about dates for Mac, Linux, Xbox Live, Playstation Network, Wii, iOS or Android versions?EE: We are hoping for this fall, but crazy things can happen! Can’t say anything for sure right now, in regards to other platforms or release dates. 

 

TGI: Because you’re doing a Pre-Beta, did Phantom Compass pass on the Steam ‘Early Access’ program or was it unavailable during development?

EE: It simply wasn’t offered to us.

 

 

TGI: How has the ‘Greenlight’ process been for your company?

EE: Exciting and daunting. This is our first game we’ve tried to get onto Steam and so it’s been a new ride for us. We have learned a lot about our audience and received amazing feedback. We had lots of ‘Yes’ numbers while we were new and on the front page, but that flatlined after about a week– although we have gotten handfuls of pinball-RPG fans who found us while grazing ‘Greenlight’. We are grateful for the amazing supporters who found us and think our game is Awesome and deserves a chance, but the total number of ‘Greenlight’ users who have found us is still a tiny fraction. Since we are an unknown, smaller company with such a quirky game, odds aren’t exactly in our favor against well established developers or well known games. But with some hard work marketing our game, with websites like TheGeniusInc or the Greenlight Supershow (http://robotloveskitty.com/supershow/) and with friends telling friends to go out and vote for us (http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=136473033), we can keep the marketing beast fed.

 

 

TGI: Was the ‘Greenlight’ process successful for your company?

EE: I was naive going into this process, so I was a bit disappointed at first.  Now that I have done more research and talked to other devs like us about their ‘Greenlight’ experience, it seems like our experience is pretty average.

 

 

TGI: Aside from Steam, have any other digital distribution channels been considered (ie GOG, Desura, Humble Bundles)?

EE: Yes, we are still considering other options but nothing concrete at this time.

 

 

TGI: What are the system requirements for ‘Rollers of the Realm’?

EE: A reasonably powered PC with a dedicated graphics card. Both keyboards and controllers are supported.

 

 

TGI: How much of the game is traditional pinball vs puzzle pinball? If there is no traditional pinball, is there anything similar?

EE: There is nothing really traditional about our game. Currently the main quest is combat heavy, and side quests are puzzle heavy. We do have an arcade mode that allows you to take your current party and go for a high score on special boards with infinitely spawning foes.

 

 

TGI: How much does changing your character have an effect on play? Is the dog from the banner a character?

EE: Changing the ball, your character, changes the game entirely. Each character has their own size, weight, damage, nudge, gold collection rate, mana collection rate and special ability. Every player will have a favorite they rely on, but boards are balanced to encourage use of all characters. You should find yourself swapping characters on the fly to finish quests efficiently. The dog is not a unique character, but a special ability of the Rogue. When she calls her dog onto the board, a second ball appears. Another character, the Hunter, has two smaller ‘Hawk’ character balls in the same way.

 

 

TGI: Will there be achievements or multiplayer? What about other Steam features like Trading Cards, Cloud Saves, Workshop mods and so on?

EE: There will not be multiplayer. We have not decided on other features.

 

 

TGI: What about after release? Are there any post release plans in general?

EE: We have nothing concrete in regards to post release plans.

 

 

TGI: Why should someone play ‘Rollers of the Realm’?

EE: It’s familiar, but also refreshing. A unique take on two well established genres to make something totally different. We have a lot of people, myself included, who weren’t pinball fans before but we still love Rollers. We also have fans who love traditional pinball and say our physics are solid and they love the game. (TGI note: I’m one of those traditional pinball fans who think the game is top notch!).

 

 

TGI: How long will the game take to beat, for the average player?

EE: While we haven’t tested enough people to say what the average player will take to beat the game, the ample replay of the campaign mode and arcade mode should ensure anyone could play forever if they wanted.

 

 

TGI: Any plans for the next game from Phantom Compass?

EE: We have a lot of ideas for more games in the Rollers universe!

 

 

TGI: Any closing words for our readers?

EE: Support small indie devs, and tell your friends to vote for us on Steam Greenlight!

 

 

Thank you to Erika and to all the Phantom Compass developers!

 

 

 

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